To help ease our camping experience, and help our trips immensely, we decided to organize the campsite ‘kitchen’. For this we started looking at purchasing or building a chuck/grub box to store all of our camp kitchen supplies. This would save time routing around looking for utensils and places to prepare the meals. Using a cardboard box helped to a certain degree, but we wanted something more versatile. We shopped around the internet to find an off the shelve solution but couldn’t find anything that would meet our requirements and allow some customization. Our basic requirements are to house our kitchen supplies, add work surface, it needs to be portable, light weight and easy to set up.
The boxes we’ve used in the past carried most of the items we needed for the trip, but they lacked the extra work surfaces we needed for cooking, cleaning and food preparation. In desperation for space we resorted to the (frequently dirty) picnic tables; leaving little to no room to eat. When researching for our perfect box, we started looking at our home: what features provide aid with cooking. Our chuck/grub box needed to provide some of the key features our kitchen does. Drawers, cupboards and counter space; everything at our finger tips. By stocking the box with our camping utensils and basic kitchen supplies, we would be less likely to forget the items we always seem to forget. With our first chuck box we want to try to stay true the KISS principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid). So we are forgoing features such as a lantern pole – which has its own problems. When preparing the food on one trip, some friends had setup a Coleman kitchen table. When we setup the lantern on the attached lantern pole that night to start cooking, we did not have the area covered by any netting… needless to say, we had extra protein with our food.
Since we like to cook most of our meals from scratch, our meal preparation requires a fair amount of space this becomes more evident when we camp with more people. We not only needed more flat surface area but also an easy way to store and retrieve spices, cooking utensils, paper towels, etc. We wanted to stay away from too many built-in drawers as they could add to the weight, and are less flexible when packing up. We found using plastic storage containers with lids worked well and allowed from repurposing while at the site.
Portability is a huge concern. Our Cub Scout Pack has a chuck box that weight 50 lbs unloaded, and when its loaded you need two fit adults to schlep it around. A box that my kids can carry by themselves is a huge benefit. While reduced weight is a must, it cannot not come at the cost of quality and stability. Many of the areas we drive to don’t have smooth roadways, and vibrations tend to loosen hinges and hardware. Also, after a couple of years working with a series of chuck boxes, our Cub Scout Pack wants to refrain from the use of detachable legs; they either require too much effort to attach and/or are wobbly when setup.
So, with these requirements in mind, I set out to make our first Chuck Box. I started by identifying what we will alway be carrying with us and the containers we would be using. We laid everything out on the floor and started to organize the items by size. We looked to see what could fit inside each other (bowls, silverware can easily fit into our wash tubs and so forth). When everything was consolidated and stacked, we took measurements to see what the main box dimensions would need be, and made sure it would fit easily into our SUV; it would have been useless if we couldn’t haul it with us. After some research on the internet we settled down to a design.
I will post some follow ups as I work on the project. Meanwhile you can view some of the progress on my Flickr album